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How are addictions treated?

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Addictive disorders are currently one of the most common pathologies in the context of Western countries, and given this reality, health sciences have spent decades researching and developing forms of therapeutic intervention for patients who suffer.

That is why, at present, the treatment of addictions includes a wide variety of strategies, techniques and therapy resources that come from both medicine and from psychology.

But… How to treat addictions taking into account the persistence of these alterations and their ability to generate relapses? Let's see it briefly in this article.

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How to treat an addiction?

Addiction is a disorder that, in any of its modalities, tends to wear down the physical and mental health of the person who suffers from it and suppress both their will to choose in their daily life and their family and friendship ties. That is why it is essential to intervene therapeutically as soon as possible, before the vicious circle of dependency traps the person in a series of actions aimed at avoiding the withdrawal syndrome at all costs, eliminating the rest of the aspects of their life.

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Addictions can be to chemical substances (synthetic drugs, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, etc.) or to behaviors addictive (casino betting, online betting…) and both types have the capacity to destroy the health of those who use them. suffer. On the other hand, people who suffer from an addiction are much more likely to develop other addictions or other psychological disorders, something that is always taken into account in the therapy process, which is adapted and expanded in cases of dual pathology.

Most addictions, both chemical and behavioral, work in a similar way in the brain, modifying the structural and functional aspects of a network of neurons that extends through much of the brain and is known as “brain reward system”. As the addiction consolidates, this structure of the nervous system is modified to respond only to drug use or to the performance of the addictive behavior. This transformation means that if the hours go by and that sensation is not experienced again, the strong discomfort caused by the withdrawal syndrome, and at the same time, it causes tolerance to appear: the person needs to become more and more involved in the addiction to experience the satiety.

However, what causes addictions is not only biological/organic in nature; there are also very important psychosocial variables. For example, people who suffer from addiction tend to abandon their affective or friendship ties with their family members, with good friends, etc. And this means that the sources of satisfaction and motivation of their day to day are becoming more and more limited to the field of addiction. In the same way, their self-esteem suffers and their ability to cope with stress and anxiety decreases, something that generates a predisposition to relapse into addiction to escape from the real world.

For all this, the treatment of addictions must always have two fundamental pillars: medical support, on the one hand, and psychotherapeutic support, on the other.

give yourself one, the most immediate symptoms linked to discomfort and organic affectations are mitigated that generates withdrawal, using psychotropic drugs with the ability to help cope with this transition towards a new way of living life free of addictive elements.

Treatment of addictive disorders

And from the other the person is trained to relate in a healthier way with oneself and with the rest of the world, so that the addiction ceases to be the main element to alleviate the discomfort and little by little becomes eclipsed by other sources of motivation. The latter includes abandoning the pessimistic framework of interpretation of reality, being aware of one's own ability to overcome addiction and reinforcing the self-esteem, retrain the person in social and communication skills, enhance self-knowledge and the discovery of activities and projects exciting, and more.

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Phases of addiction treatment in therapy

In most addictions, the same 4 phases of intervention are put into practice with the aim of helping the person overcome their addictive disorder. These are the main stages.

1. detox

The detoxification phase is one of the most important, since the success of the therapy depends on the successful completion of this initial stage in which the vicious circle of discomfort-consumption/recidivism.

This phase has an average duration of 21 days and its objective is to break the bond established between the addicted person and the substance that they consumed in an addictive way and achieve a detoxification. complete at a time when they are especially prone to give in to discomfort and resume the behavior towards which they are dependent or resume using drug.

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2. cessation

The detoxification phase is closely linked to the detoxification phase and consists of stripping the addicted person of all those attitudes or harmful habits that he put into practice during the previous process of addiction. In this case, the goal of therapy is not so short-term, and is to help the person adopt new ways of living the route from now on.

All these habits and attitudes that dominated the life of the person with addiction can affect both her professional life and social, such as your family life and the relationship with your partner or loved ones, that is why it is so necessary to achieve a detoxification complete. This objective can be achieved through the implementation of scientifically proven therapies in cases of addiction such as Cognitive-behavioral Therapy, one of the most used in this type of cases.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy pursues the modification of behaviors, habits, beliefs or thoughts that may be potentially harmful and pernicious by maintaining the addictive behavior.

The therapist will help the person with addictive behavior to develop useful skills, new strategies, and new ideas or thoughts. that allow you to overcome the withdrawal syndrome successfully and achieve a complete detoxification of the drug to the addictive behavior determined.

The process of this phase lasts between 8 and 12 weeks.

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3. Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation process lasts an average of 12 months and consists of recovery and training of a series of daily healthy behaviors and habits that the person may have lost during their past addiction process.

To successfully complete this phase, group therapies can be put into practice with people who have presented the same addiction, in the one that can share experiences between them and also the members of the same group can function as models with other people.

In addition to that, the help of the patient's family is also essential to gradually acquire those habits of conduct that affect the daily life of the person and that will contribute decisively to completely get rid of any hint of addiction.

4. Social reintegration

The last phase or social reinsertion aims to that the addicted person recovers his social and personal life prior to the addiction, and this is also the ultimate goal of any psychotherapeutic intervention in addictions.

To achieve complete social reintegration, permanent follow-up will be necessary for several years. of the person's life, both psychologically and medically if necessary and also in the field social.

This phase is one of the longest, since complete social reintegration will take years to occur, which is why its average duration is about 4 years.

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